Today’s Fresh Sheet - reviews of recent and current Washington wine releases – includes wines from Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Convergence Zone Cellars, Hestia Cellars, and Viento Wines.
Sinclair Estate Vineyards is a new winery located in downtown Walla Walla. The winery, started by Tim and Cathy Sinclair, opened its doors in May of 2010.
Originally from Texas, Tim Sinclair has been working at Microsoft since 1992. When looking for a place to retire, Walla Walla seemed just right given the Sinclair’s love of wine.
The Sinclairs had vineyard manager Ken Hart help them find a 117-acre piece of property in the Mill Creek area near Walla Walla Vintners. The site has three hills, the highest of which is about 1,600 feet in elevation, with southwest facing slopes. The site is currently largely planted to wheat. Twenty acres have been cleared and will be planted in the coming years. The winery’s tasting room in Walla Walla contains a mural of the site.
Sinclair Estate Vineyards’ initial releases were made at the Dunham Cellars’ facility in the airport area. Amy Alvarez-Wampfler, formerly of Columbia Crest, joined the winery as winemaker in March of 2010.
The Sinclairs have also opened a Bed & Breakfast, Vine & Roses. Sinclair Estate Vineyards made approximately 2,000 cases in the 2010 vintage.
Sinclair Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2009 $25
Rating: * (Excellent) Spice, toasty oak aromas, light tropical fruit, and hay mark the nose. A creamy texture on the palate with a lemony, mango-laden finish. 100% Chardonnay. Lewis vineyard. Aged in 100% new French oak for 12 months, 9 months sur lie. 14.1% alcohol. Sampled at 60 degrees.
Sinclair Merlot Columbia Valley 2007 $40
Rating: * (Excellent) Abundant red fruit aromas waft up from the glass along with bittersweet chocolate accents, light herbal notes, and orange rind. A fruit laden wine on the palate with a firm backbone of tannins. 85% Merlot (Lewis and Pepper Bridge), 10% Malbec (Les Collines), and 5% Petit Verdot (Frazier Vineyard). Aged in French oak for 24 months. 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases produced.
Sinclair Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2007 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) A fascinating aroma profile marked by peppermint and tealeaves. Rich and textured with fruit on the palate balanced by firm tannins. Lingers on the finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tokar, Heather Hills, and Double River vineyards. Aged in French oak for 24 months. 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases produced.
Sinclair Estates Pentatonic Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007 $50
Rating: * (Excellent) Named after the Pentatonic scale reflecting Tim Sinclair’s love of music, the wine shows abundant earth aromas along with dusty chocolate, tea leaves, and cherry cola. On the palate, an impressive wine that is simultaneously bold and restrained with a firm backbone of tannins. A red meat wine if ever there were one. 54% Cabernet Sauvignon (Double River and Tokar), 30% Merlot (Lewis), 8% Malbec (Les Collines), and 8% Syrah (Lewis). Aged in French oak for 24 months. 14.4% alcohol. 75 cases produced.
Convergence Zone Cellars
Convergence Zone Cellars, or CZ Cellars, is a new winery located in the Warehouse District in Woodinville. Scott Greenberg serves as winemaker. Greenberg was inspired to take up winemaking by his brother, an avid wine lover. He began by experimenting with home wine kits and taking classes at South Seattle Community College.
Greenberg says that his interest in wine increased dramatically, however, after discovering Gary Vaynerchuck’s Wine Library TV and its associated forum. He says of Vaynerchuck, “His informal, crazy way of discussing wines really interested me, and I began to expand my palate and interest in wine and winemaking.”
Greenberg has always been a weather buff and lives in the Puget Sound Convergence Zone. In 2008 while stuck at home from the December snowstorm (now doesn’t that bring back memories?) he completed his application for a home-based winery. As he mulled ideas for a winery name and, day after day, the snow kept falling, Greenberg decided that the name Convergence Zone Cellars was perfect. There is also an added benefit to the name. “I get great publicity every night on the news,” Greenberg says.
While Greenberg’s initial red wine, Storm Front, is from a variety of vineyard sources across the state, starting in 2010 he will be focusing exclusively on fruit from Red Mountain.
CZ Cellars is currently microscopic in size with 150 cases produced in 2008 and 200 in 2009. Greenberg plans to expand to 500. These are the winery’s initial releases.
Convergence Zone Cellars Riesling Yakima Valley 2009 $15
Rating: + (Good) The color has a greenish tinge. An aromatic wine with mandarin oranges, honeysuckle, lemon, and lime. Off-dry in style with a fair amount of sugar on the palate along with abundant lemon and lime flavors. The sugar gets slightly top heavy at times, but overall an impressive wine. Miller Hop Vineyard. 11.7% alcohol. 2.4% Residual Sugar. 48 cases produced. Recommended.
Convergence Zone Sunbreak White Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $17
Rating: + (Good) Slightly copper in color. The aroma profile is marked by strong cantaloupe aromas with a touch of lemon spritzed on top. On the palate, a fairly full-bodied wine with abundant melon flavors. Wants a bit more acidity to hold it all together. 100% Chenin Blanc. 13.6% alcohol. 1.1% Residual Sugar. 48 cases produced.
Convergence Zone Cellars Storm Front Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $24
Rating: . (Decent) Jumps from the glass with black cherries and light green notes. The nose shows a fair amount of oak aromas, particularly pine. The palate shows abundant cherry flavors, but the oak seems to be sitting on top much of the time. 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet. Red Haven (Red Mountain), Crawford (Yakima Valley), and Olmstead (Columbia Valley) vineyards. Aged in 30% new French and American oak. 13.6% alcohol. 140 cases produced.
Hestia Cellars is located in Carnation, Washington with a tasting room in Woodinville. Owner and winemaker Shannon Jones focuses his efforts on a limited number of red wines – including Cabernet Sauvignon, a Meritage, Syrah, and Merlot. Malbec was recently added to the mix.
This 100% Merlot is a single vineyard wine, hailing from StoneTree vineyard in the Wahluke Slope. This vineyard has been receiving increasing attention from numerous winemakers of late, and this delicious Merlot shows why. It is an excellent example of the varietal from Washington State. The wine was whole-berry fermented and then pressed into one and two year old French oak barrels. While not displaying the firm tannic structure often seen in Washington Merlots, it has every bit of the delicious fruit.
Hestia Merlot Columbia Valley 2008
Rating: * (Excellent) The nose is reasonably restrained at present with blackberries, dust, cola, licorice, cherries, and a light medicinal note. The palate is rich and opulent, full of dark cherry flavors and soft, silky tannins. A hedonistic example of Washington Merlot. 100% Merlot. Stone Tree Vineyard, Wahluke Slope. Aged 22 months in new and second fill French oak. 250 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Viento Wines is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge AVA. Winemaker Rich Cushman, a native of Hood River, has been making wine in the Gorge for twenty-eight years. During that time, he has never made an ice wine – until now.
On December 8th 2009, conditions in Celilo Vineyard were perfect. Grapes were picked at a brisk 17 degrees Fahrenheit and were subsequently pressed for twenty-four hours with the resulting juice 37.2 Brix. The final result – a wine with 17% Residual Sugar – is an attention getter. It is rich and luscious but beautifully balanced by Celilo Vineyard’s famed acidity.
This is the first true ice wine made in the Columbia Gorge AVA and is proof positive that, when conditions are just right, these wines can excel in the area. This wine is also a perfect holiday gift for people who might enjoy a piece of Washington wine history.
Viento Gewurztraminer Ice Wine Columbia Gorge 2009 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine that leaps from the glass with white flowers, pear, orange peel, white grapefruit, and ripe pineapple. The palate is thick and rich with honey flavors but is beautifully balanced by acidity. Carries on seemingly endlessly on the finish. 17% Residual Sugar. 11.9% alcohol. 126 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
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